What is an Enrolled Agent? Most people know what a CPA is or have at least heard the term CPA. Many people are not aware of the tax professionals called Enrolled Agents (EAs). One of the reasons that EAs are not as well know is that there are about ten times more CPAs in the U.S. than EAs, and the Board of Accountancy spends hundreds of times more money promoting CPAs than the EA organizations do promoting EAs.
So what is an EA? An EA is a federally licensed tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and is empowered by the U.S. Department of Treasury to represent taxpayers for audits, collections and appeals before all administrative levels of the IRS. CPAs are licensed by each individual state. The licensing examinations for CPAs emphasize accounting principals, not tax law.
Unlike CPAs, who are experts in accounting and who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes; all EAs specialize in taxation and tax matters and are required to demonstrate competency in tax law. Many CPAs that work in the public sector are proficient in tax matters as well. Some CPAs are cost accounting experts, or valuation experts or forensic fraud experts.
To become an Enrolled Agent one must pass a difficult test that is 100% federal tax law, or have worked for the IRS for five years, regularly interpreting the Tax Code and regulations.
Unlike many tax preparers (many of them unlicensed) for whom tax preparation is a seasonal job from January through April 15, most EAs and CPAs (those who specialize in tax), provide tax services year-round, not only preparing tax returns, but also providing tax planning and IRS representation, including Appeals.
Only Enrolled Agents, CPAs and Attorneys can represent taxpayers before the IRS and other government tax agencies.